Thousands Protest Monastery Crackdown

The mass protest in troubled Chinese Sichuan province was to highlight police beatings and detentions of monks.
2012-04-25
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Tibetans protesting in front of the police station and government center at Dzogchen township in Sichuan province's Dege county, April 25, 2012.
Photo courtesy of Khenpo Dawa.

Updated at 11:30 a.m. EST on 2012-04-27

About 3,000 to 4,000 Tibetans led by monks protested Wednesday in front of a township police station and government center in China's Sichuan province, condemning a security crackdown on a local monastery and demanding the release of nine people who had been detained, sources said.

The protesters at the Dzogchen township in Dege county in the Tibetan-populated Kardze (Ganzi) prefecture were angry at a series of raids conducted by security forces on the Dzogchen Monastery from Sunday to Tuesday, during which monks were severely beaten, interrogated, and taken away, the sources said.

Police searches were also conducted on Tibetan homes around the monastery.

One of those injured by the beatings was identified as Gyatso, who is in critical condition at the Kardze District People's Hospital.

"Today, around 3,000 tulkus [high-ranking lamas] and monks from the Dzogchen Shri-Seng Ngarig Buddhist Learning Institute and Dzogchen Monastery and also laypeople from Dzogchen Dogru Village protested outside the local government office and police station demanding an end to the Chinese crackdown in the area and urged the Chinese to release those who were arrested for no proper reason," said a monk from Dzogchen living in exile in India.

Wednesday's mass protest was peaceful, but protesters demanded that the crackdown should stop and all security forces in the monastery be pulled out.

"They told the officials that if there was no withdrawal, things could turn ugly," one caller from inside Tibet told RFA. "The people were disgusted that the police could enter the monastery and assault the monks, including one 13-year-old monk," said the caller, identified as Tashi. 

Assaulted

The monastery crackdown was launched on April 22 when 60 Chinese police personnel stormed into the Buddhist institute building, searched its premises, and assaulted the monks.

More security personnel arrived at the monastery on subsequent days and beat the monks.

"Gyatso was beaten by the Chinese for simply staring at the face of the Chinese policemen," the exiled monk said.

The monks detained were identified as Pegyal, Tenzin, Khyithar, Migyur, Gurnam, Kalsang, and Petop while the laypeople taken into custody were Ribo, Senge, and Phurbu Tsering.

Sichuan has been the scene of most of the 35 Tibetan self-immolation protests against Chinese rule that have taken place since 2009.

These have resulted in a major security crackdown in the province and in other two Tibetan-populated provinces, Qinghai and Gansu, as well as in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Reported by RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma and Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.